BRADENTON, Fla. – After a second year cut short by injury, Barrett Barnes is hoping that his off-season training efforts will pay off at Pirates spring training.
The centre-fielder from Sugar Land, Texas was selected in the first round of the 2012 draft with high expectations and upside, but suffered a series of unfortunate injuries that have stunted his development as a player, missing significant time in each of the past two years with leg and hamstring ailments.
Barnes has stayed strong in the face of adversity, remaining as determined as ever in his efforts to make the big club while relying on his Christian faith to get him through the tough times.
“I worked my butt off this off-season with rehab,” said Barnes. “I was going to rehab four times a week, twice a day. My legs feel good, my body feels good, I’m in shape, I’m lean and I’m just ready to play great baseball.”
Barnes had a .268 BA to go along with a .399 SLG, 24 RBIs, and five home runs last season with West Virginia of the Class-A South Atlantic League before having his season derailed by injury.
The highly regarded outfielder isn’t relying on his past reputation and draft status to get him to the next level, as he sees plenty of room for improvement and growth in all areas of his game.
“Every single part of my game needs work,” Barnes said. “If I was solid and ready I wouldn’t be in minor league camp right now. I’m out here trying improve all aspects of my game.”
Barnes has also worked extremely hard to find more consistency with his bat by making greater use of his legs while at the plate.
“I worked on a leg kick to get my legs more involved in my swing to try to stop being so handsy and to use my full body,” Barnes said. “I’ve been working to get my legs stronger, so I might as well use them when batting.”
Ever the team player, Barnes believes that one of the most essential elements of spring training is to establish chemistry within the ball club and gain a clear expectation of players’ roles.
“The most important thing is getting camaraderie with the guys you are going to play with,” said Barnes. “Having a feel for how the other outfielders are going to work out, how the middle infielders are going to come out to the outfield to get pop-ups, so we can all be on the same page and have the same rhythm.”
That camaraderie was felt amongst all of the players in the Pirates minor league system when the Bucs made the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years last season.
“It meant a lot to all of us [the Pirates making the playoffs], it’s the pride of accomplishing that and the hard work that it took to get there,” Barnes said. “It’s not always going to be easy, but they pulled it out and they did a great job representing the city of Pittsburgh and I tip my hat to them.”
Barnes is unsure when he will get the call up to the Majors, but there is little question in his mind who he would call first when the time comes.
“Oh my parents, without a doubt,” said Barnes. “They’ve been there since day one when I was playing tee-ball, so there’s nobody else I’d think of first.”